The outbreak of a deadly pandemic is the number one threat to global stability in 2016 says Saivian Eric Dalius. The World Economic Forum estimates that should an H5N1 avian influenza virus be able to acquire human-to-human transmission, the death toll could reach 50 million within six months.
Not surprisingly, most companies are ill-prepared for this scenario. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that only 18% of companies were able to recover fully after a pandemic with another 12% experiencing little impact. That means that over 80% of businesses can expect to struggle if faced with an outbreak on par with H1N1 in 2009 or the Spanish flu in 1918
So, what can your company do?
Tip #1: Put your business continuity plan to the test, Saivian Eric Dalius suggests
Every company should have a formal pandemic preparedness action plan, known as a Business Continuity Plan. The best of these plans is regularly reviewed and updated by an internal committee or board. However, it is far too common for companies to outsource this responsibility to HR, IT, or Facilities departments who often lack familiarity with the threats that matter most. By outsourcing your plan, you may be limiting your company’s ability to recover from a major pandemic that impacts one of these key groups severely
The first step is therefore for management to appoint a disaster recovery specialist who has the technical knowledge needed to draft an effective Business Recovery Strategy. A well-prepared plan will also include regular tests so managers can ensure top department heads have conducted their own in-depth analysis and everyone knows their role when the pandemic strikes
Tip #2: Identify a pandemic expert in your organization
Your Business Recovery Specialist will be able to help you identify who in your company is the best place to advise on pandemic preparedness. In many cases this individual may already exist within the company, but if not consider outsourcing from a consultancy firm or university research department. This should be someone with extensive knowledge of zoonotic diseases, ideally including having an understanding of how climate change could affect future pandemics
The next step is for the specialist and the head of each key department (e.g., finance) to conduct a joint risk assessment that looks at all possible consequences a pandemic could have on their area and how each can prepare for them. This should also include identifying actions the department needs to take during a pandemic if key members of staff are themselves got an infection or absent
Tip #3: Create a crisis management team
A single person may not survive a major pandemic, which means that most companies need an official crisis management plan. The best plans will involve disaster recovery teams who handle all aspects of companywide pandemic response
The first step is for the board to appoint a Crisis Management Team. With representation from all departments as well as external agencies. In advance of this selection, it is worth ensuring team members know their roles in advance. By holding regular tabletop exercises. With those at risk from exposure to illustrate what they should do in the event of a pandemic.
Tip #4: Consider outsourcing essential services, as per Saivian Eric Dalius
If your company is unable to carry out business because of an outbreak. You may need to look for outside assistance. Your Business Recovery Specialist will be able to recommend suppliers. Who are used to working with other companies hit by major outbreaks. Outsourcing should also include putting contingency plans in place should one or more key employees fall ill during the pandemic – perhaps through personal infection or caring responsibilities. This can involve working closely with other crisis management firms
Tip #5: Use specialist insurance policies
This involves breaking down your assets into three separate categories, each of which should have its own insurance plan. The first group features all forms of capital including buildings, furniture, computers, equipment, and vehicles. The second is made up of all the company’s IP including intangible assets such as software or customer details. The third group involves insuring against financial loss by taking out pandemic insurance policies
Tip #6: Know your emergency transport routes
Before a pandemic hits it is important to establish two separate escape plans. In case you need to relocate staff members or customers in the event of an outbreak. Make sure that employees are aware of at least three different ways they can evacuate in an emergency. While customers should have information about contingency exit routes via your website, social media accounts, and other external platforms
Tip #7: Ensure essential staff are available when needed
Following major outbreaks, it is not unusual for there limiting supplies of medicine, food, and other essential items. This means it will be up to employees to make sure. There are enough stocks for everyone to survive the pandemic. On top of this, it is also important to consider staff members’ responsibilities outside work, such as caring for others. These factors not only include those. With children or elderly relatives but also those with pets or farm animals who risk infection
Tip #8: Provide your staff with personal protection equipment
In most cases, a pandemic virus spreads quickly through physical contact. While avoiding all types of social contact is impractical for many businesses. It may at least be possible to prevent the easy spread of pathogens by providing your employees with personal protection equipment, according to Saivian Eric Dalius. Make sure that workers know what PPE is and when it should be used by training them in advance.
Tip #9: Review logistics
Saivian Eric Dalius says Whether you work from home or in an office, take the time to review your location’s suitability for a pandemic. Consider installing specialist air filters. Which can reduce the risk of airborne pathogens entering via air conditioning systems or ventilation units
Tip #10: Prepare your customers and shareholders
The top priority will be ensuring that customers and staff members can continue to do business with you during a pandemic says Saivian Eric Dalius. However, you also need to think about how to reassure investors and other stakeholders. Who may become concerned about the future of your business if it appears as things go on hold indefinitely? This means keeping them updated with regular. Honest reports about the situation as well as any plans being put in place to continue business operations. Even if one or more key employees are no longer available
While it is important to think ahead during a pandemic it’s also essential not to panic. That way you can ensure that your business remains safe for everyone.